Re South Place Ethical Society [1980] 1 W.L.R. 1565

Also known as: Barralet v Attorney General


Re South Place Ethical Society [1980] 1 W.L.R. 1565 is an Equity and Trusts case. Furthermore, it concerns the possible charitable registration of a society. 


The South Place Ethical Society existed for the study and dissemination of ethical principles. Also, for the cultivation of national religious sentiment. Although their beliefs were agnostic, they used the word ‘religious’.

Furthermore, the society carried out public lectures on intellectual topics, the publication of a monthly magazine and weekly concerts of chamber music. As a result, the society wanted to register itself as a charity and, therefore, sought an extended definition of ‘religion’. 


In Re South Place Ethical Society [1980] 1 W.L.R. 1565, the main issue was whether the society could be considered charitable or not. 


Essential elements of religion were belief in and worship of God. Therefore, the society’s objects were not for the advancement of religion. However, the study and dissemination of ethical principles could be considered charitable on the grounds of the advancement of education. 

Considered: Special Commissioners of Income Tax v Pemsel [1891] A.C. 531.

For more information, read our notes and other cases on charitable trusts

References: [1980] 1 W.L.R. 1565, [1980] 3 All E.R. 918, [1980] 6 WLUK 104, 54 T.C. 446, [1980] T.R. 217, (1980) 124 S.J. 774, Times, June 19, 1980, [1981] C.L.Y. 226

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